Tuesday, January 13, 2015

According to Lisa Madigan, the State Constitution Is Not Absolute

"Attorneys for state government are asking the Illinois Supreme Court to reinstate a controversial law curbing public employee pensions, contending that constitutional protections of retirement benefits are not absolute.

"The arguments by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office, filed Monday, are the first in what is expected to be a lengthy back-and-forth with lawyers for public workers and retirees over the fate of the December 2013 law.

“…It [is] argued that the increased COLAs during an era of low inflation had led to retirees getting $36 billion worth of ‘greater purchasing power,’ while increased longevity has added an additional $9 billion in liabilities…”(Chicago Tribune, January 13, 2015). 

Originally Posted on this blog, MARCH 12, 2011:

An Appeal to Reason: Who’s to Blame?

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” --Martin Luther King 

Two hundred and twenty-three years ago, the 18th century German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, formulated a theory of ethics exemplified by his categorical imperatives.  To illustrate: “Act so that you treat humanity… always as an end and never as a means only.  Act only on that maxim by which you can, at the same time, will that it should become universal law.”  

Might we ask today whether it is an injustice for some legislators and lawyers to change existing laws, especially those laws that compel others to accept them but are not made compulsory on themselves?   Are State employees allowed a voice regarding the laws that will impact only them?  
Why are some people making State employees the scapegoats for today’s financial problems anyway?  

The State’s Retirement Systems are not responsible for the State’s budget deficit or for the underfunding of public sector funds.  State employees have contributed responsibly to their pension funds. Most of them will not receive Social Security when they retire, and most of them will have worked for lower wages and without bonuses throughout their career for the promise of a guaranteed pension…  

Why is it an injustice to break the trust among individuals and the pension systems into which they have elected to participate? Surely, we know that the teachers and other State employees should not be held accountable for a State’s massive budget deficit.  Could it be that a State is in trouble because of the arrogance, incompetence, irresponsibility, corruption, and cronyism of some of its legislators?...  

Do you honestly believe that teachers, policemen, firemen, and other State employees are to blame for wasteful spending, unemployment, foreclosures, bankruptcy, poverty, and other financial disasters?  Do you really believe that the pension benefits of those people who have served the public selflessly and without avarice should be changed or eliminated? 

1 comment:

  1. A few months ago I calculated the average annual U.S. inflation rate for the last 100 years: 3.22%, or something quite close -- higher than our COLA. Why should any decent and reasonable person give credence to an argument to lower benefits based an arbitrarily bracketed "era of low inflation"? Re the liabilities of "increased longevity," I'd like to see the assumptions and numbers, and I'd bet good money that they are bogus. Regardless, neither issue is legitimate for a court of law to consider in the first place, as a contract is a contract, and a constitutional guarantee is the last legal word.